How Cooking Impacts Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

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There are some everyday actions that hurt a home’s indoor air quality but are overlooked by homeowners because of how essential they are. One such action is cooking. Your eating habits inform the types of pollutants that get into your indoor air. Cooking anything from a piece of toast to chocolate chip cookies leads to differing levels of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) entering your air. Knowing what these pollutants are can help you take steps to improve your indoor air.

How Different Cooking Sources Contribute to Indoor Air Pollution

Cooking any amount or type of food will cause pollutants to enter your indoor air. However, the effects shouldn’t be harmful if your home is properly filtered. If your home is outfitted with gas ovens and cooktops, you will perform combustion of fossil fuels every time you cook. Any type of cooking that involves combustion is more harmful than non-combustion cooking methods like microwaves and electric ovens.

When you use an electric oven and cooktop, your home shouldn’t become too polluted. However, a small concentration of harmful particles can still enter your indoor air. When you engage in methods of cooking like frying tortillas and stir-frying, particulate matter could get into the air. Using the self-cleaning function in your oven may also release a substantial number of pollutants.

Whether you use a gas or electric burner, frying oil at high temperatures results in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) being released into the air. These contaminants may be harmful to respiratory and eye health.

Primary Pollutants Released When You Cook

What and how you cook are the two most important factors that determine which harmful particles become suspended in your indoor air. For instance, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a standard outdoor pollutant that can be found in high concentrations after you cook anything with gas combustion. At high levels, this substance is an irritant to the nose throat, and eyes. Consistent exposure can lead to respiratory infections and bronchitis.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that’s odorless and tasteless. Your home may be equipped with a monitor that will detect when CO levels get too high. Even though electrical ovens don’t produce high levels of CO, older gas ovens can. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, vomiting, chest pain, and dizziness.

Other contaminants that are highly common in a home’s indoor air involve particulate matter, which covers many different pollutants of varying sizes. If a gas stove isn’t ventilated correctly, the concentration of particulate matter in your home can increase considerably.

The most common forms of particulate matter include sodium chloride, sulfates, ammonia, and nitrates. Inhaling particulate matter for an extended period of time increases the risk of damage to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

How Indoor Air Pollutants Can Be Minimized

There are several things that can be done to improve your indoor air quality. For one, you could make the switch to electric cooking from gas cooking. While electric cooking appliances still release contaminants, they do so in much smaller quantities.

You could also have proper ventilation installed in your kitchen. When your kitchen is well-ventilated, the pollutants that are produced when cooking will quickly be transferred outside of your home.

Consider microwave vents and range hoods that have a direct route to the outside air. Range hoods usually ventilate the back area of a range more efficiently, which is why you should try to use your back burners as often as possible. If your kitchen doesn’t have a range hood or venting system, open a couple of windows while you cook.

Another option available to you is to have an air purification system installed, which our team at Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning can handle for you. Even if you only cook on occasion, pollutants can enter your home from other sources and reduce your indoor air quality. The latest air purification technology can get rid of more than 99.9% of all indoor air pollutants that are 0.3 microns or larger.

If you believe that your indoor air isn’t as clean and free from pollutants as it should be, you should schedule our indoor air quality services. After we check the quality of your indoor air, we can install an air purifier that will remove nearly all contaminants from the air. We offer a full selection of heating and cooling services, including maintenance, repair, and installation for all HVAC units. Ductwork design and installation services are also available to residents of Puyallup, WA. To have your indoor air quality tested, call Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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